Doing Ontario up Brown!

To this long-time political apparatchik, it was an interesting example of the art of remaking a politician. Ontario viewers of Global Television Sunday morning had an opportunity to see the training effort in action. It was almost a before and after—that might have been recorded hours apart. It was new Ontario Conservative Leader Patrick Brown showing off his new tricks in one interview and losing them in the next.

He is obviously being trained currently in how to speak on television. The whiny adenoidal voice was gone in the first interview. It was on Tom Clark’s West Block show. You could see how up-tight he was during the introduction. He was frowning as he prepared himself to speak. He spoke in a lower voice. He was carefully scripted. It was hardly the Patrick Brown from Barrie that we know.

It did not even seem to be what Tom Clark expected. Brown was actually talking seriously about climate change. He was promoting a straight carbon tax as opposed to the Ontario government’s more complex cap and trade plan with Quebec and California. To Tom Clark’s obvious surprise, Brown was saying that federal Conservative candidates interested in the Conservative leadership contest next year need to get on board on addressing climate change.

But the same Patrick Brown did not fare as well on the Focus Ontario show with Toronto news anchor Alan Carter. Carter has an extensive background covering the Ontario Legislature and it was obvious that he had been briefed by some members of the Conservative caucus who despise their new leader. Carter asked the right questions to throw Brown off his game.

The whiny voice came back and the higher pitch returned, the answers where hesitant and disjointed, and Brown looked like he was checking for the nearest exit. It was obvious that he had not got to the speaking lessons about handling hostile questions.

His problem was that he was taken off his script of attacking the Ontario Liberals. The funniest line to anyone who had watched him in Ottawa over the years was the one when he said, “I’ve always cared about the environment.” He certainly kept that passion well hidden from his fellow parliamentarians. Obviously Tom Clark had never noticed him when he was in Ottawa as a back bench Conservative. He never did anything.

Carter also seemed sceptical about Brown getting religion over environmental issues.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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